News & Archive

Model Killer, Waterford, CT (residency)

This month I will be workshopping a section from my new script Model Killer: Giant Crimes & Tiny Cover-Ups as an Artist in Residence at the Eugene O’Neill Theater Center – with performances on Friday, June 16th and Saturday, June 17th at the culmination of the National Puppetry Conference.


Model Killer: Giant Crimes & Tiny Cover-Ups is a morbid comedy centered on a disgruntled dollhouse maker turned investigator. Vivian Nutt builds dioramas of unsolved murders, only to be discovered that she is in fact the killer who has committed these very crimes.  In Model Killer, I am creating a universe in which the viewer is invited to reconsider female serial killers, the historically feminine craft of miniatures, and murder as entertainment.

How is our perception of gender colored through the lens of aggression? Can injecting the idealized settings of dollhouses with the macabre, expose the fraud of domestic tranquility? Are Vivian’s attempts to construct a world that fits her model of justice by eliminating problematic people out-of-scale with their transgressions? These are a few of the questions I will take a stab at.

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Fractured Atlas

I’m also doing some last minute fundraising for this project through Fractured Atlas… So if you’re looking for a write-off and like supporting interdisciplinary artist-writers who construct visual narratives that memorialize obsessional lives – you can make a secure online donation through Fractured Atlas, a 501(c)(3) public charity. Contributions for the purposes of Marsian De Lellis are tax-deductible to the extent permitted by law.

Extra special thanks to the O’Neill Theater Center and the Walt Disney Company for helping to make this residency possible.

COLA20, LAMAG, Los Angeles (exhibition)

(Left)  (In)/Animate Objects installation, 2016, photo: Alex Griffin

I’m honored to be a part of COLA20 – opening Sunday April 23rd at 2PM at Los Angeles Municipal Art Gallery (LAMAG). COLA20 is a landmark exhibition that celebrates the first twenty years of the City of Los Angeles (COLA) Individual Artist Fellowship Program, recognizing the achievements of 271 design, literary, performing, and visual master artists and artist-duos who represent the creative legacy of Los Angeles.

COLA20 will be on view April 27, 2017 through July 2, 2017 with an opening reception on April 23rd from 2 to 5pm. LAMAG is located in Barnsdall Art Park at 4800 Hollywood Blvd, L.A. – For more information, call (323) 664-6269.

The Feeder, Portland OR (performance)

The weekend of October 15th, 2016, I performed The Feedera short tabletop puppetry piece about a man on the run after accidentally feeding his wife to death at Beady Little Eyes Puppet Slam. There were two shows: Saturday, October 15th and Sunday October 16th at 7:30PM at the Echo Theatre – 1515 SE 37th Avenue in Portland, OR.

$10-12 Tickets for Saturday, October 15th, 2016
$10-12 Tickets for Sunday, October 16th, 2016

I developed The Feeder during the 2015 National Puppetry Conference at the Eugene O’Neill Theatre Center with support from the LA Guild of Puppetry and the Connecticut Guild of Puppetry, and assistance from Ronnie Burkett, Sharon Challenger, Tim Lagasse, and Melissa Dunphy.

Also on the line up: Dead Death, Bruce Bowman, Katie McClenahan and Jenelle Weidlich, Summer Olsson, Cherie Panek, Kris Woolen, with films by Michelle Goldstein, Jen LaMastra and Drew Laughery, and Chris and Zena Walas.

High School Insder: LA Times (interview)

Move over Teen Vogue and Tiger Beat! A team of crackshot junior sleuth investigative journalists over at High School Insider (LA Times) recently got their hands on me and they didn’t let up on all the tough questions!

Read the interview here.


They also made this cool 360 degree video of my installation (In)/Animate Objects!

Raggedy Ann to Real Doll, Los Angeles (live stream)

On June 8th, I performed  Raggedy Ann to Real Doll at Los Angeles Contemporary Exhibitions with Chris Sheets as part of Irrational Exhibits 9, curated by Deborah Oliver 💉

How do we negotiate our idea of personal identity in an ever-shifting landscape of technologies that can drastically alter and re-map the body?

In Raggedy Ann to Real Doll, I dissect what is just beneath the surface of our collective preoccupation for physical perfection.



Transforming the storefront window of LACE into an operating theatre, I performed experimental cosmetic procedures, encouraging viewers to interact with one of America’s most beloved dolls as she went under the knife.

Raggedy Ann to Real Doll, Los Angeles (installation/performance)



How do we negotiate our idea of personal identity in an ever-shifting landscape of technologies that can drastically alter and re-map the body? In Raggedy Ann to Real Doll, I will dissect what is just beneath the surface of Southern California body culture and our collective preoccupation with physical perfection. Transforming the storefront window of LACE into an operating theatre, I will perform experimental cosmetic procedures. Viewers are encouraged to use protective binoculars and decontamination footies as one of America’s most beloved dolls goes under the knife.

Performed with Chris Sheets, this one night only medical event will be part of Irrational Exhibits 9: Reports From the Field, an installation and durational performance event curated by Deborah Oliver with 17 other artists from Los Angeles.  IE9 also includes the work of Claudia Bucher, Ryan Bulis and Brian Black, Kent Anderson Butler, Monica Duncan and Samantha Mohr, Kristina Faragher, Janice Gomez, Flora Kao, Curt LeMieux, Juan Meneses, Thinh Nguyen, Liz Nurenberg, Nancy Popp, Bradford Chan Prairie, Lara Salmon, and Liz Young.

The 16 new works presented in this performative exhibition are centered on the artist’s observations of the changing landscape of place and location. The questions these artists are reflecting on via their “reports from the field” explore how we identify and understand the shifting landscape, whether it’s social, political or personal. How do we participate in these shifts as they arise and stay connected to each other?

Tickets available at door – $10 General, $8 Students/Seniors w/ ID

LACE is located at 6522 Hollywood Blvd, Los Angeles CA 90028 – In Hollywood, that’s just east of Highland and west of Cahuenga (cross street Wilcox). Parking is available for $7 in the lot behind the building, accessible from the west side of Wilcox. For details, visit or call (323) 957-1777.

Artist Talk, LAMAG, Los Angeles (event)

(In)/Animate Objects, 2016, Photo: Alex Griffin

On June 4th at 2PM at Los Angeles Municipal Art Gallery, I will be in conversation with Allison de Fren on the  handmade bodies that populate my work, my obsessions the animate.

Allison penned an essay on my installation, (In)/Animate Objects for the COLA catalog. Our discussion of silicone love dolls was published in Puppetry International. At the same event, COLA artist Megan Geckler will also speak about her colorful pieces in the show.

Prior to our talk, at 1PM, I will be at LAMAG to activate the installation.


  • 1PM – (In)Animate Objects
  • 2PM – Artist Talk

LAMAG is located is located at 4800 Hollywood Boulevard, Los Angeles, CA, 90027. Admission and parking are free.

Gallery hours are Thursdays through Sundays, noon to 5:00PM. COLA16 runs through July 3rd. For general information, visit or call 323.644.6269.



Artillery Magazine (review)

According to Artillery Magazine, my installation, (In)/Animate Objects is both “creepy” and “particularly unsettling”! Don’t just take their word for it, see for yourself at LAMAG Thursdays-Sundays 12-5PM through July 3rd. And if you do want to just take their word for it, read more about #COLA16 in GO BIG OR GO HOME: COLA 2016, by Beverly Western.

photo: Mike Schupbach, quote Artillery Magazine

(In)/Animate Objects Opening, LAMAG (installation/performance)

The 2016 C.O.L.A. Individual Artist Fellowships Exhibition opens this Sunday, May 15th 2-5PM . I am pleased to have been selected along with 11 other amazing artists for this exhibition. (Read more here)

Los Angeles Municipal Art Gallery (LAMAG) is located is located at 4800 Hollywood Boulevard, Los Angeles, CA, 90027.

Following the opening, the exhibition will run through July 3rd. LAMAG is open Thursdays through Sundays, 12:00 noon to 5:00 p.m. Admission is free. For general information, please call 323.644.6269 or visit

For this exhibition I will premiere a new installation (In)/Animate Objects which includes 1,261 dolls created with over 60 people .  I will be activating the installation during the opening May 15th from 2-5PM  and again on June 4th at 1PM (1 hour prior to my 2PM artist talk).


from the COLA catalog:

Life is nothing if you’re not obsessed,” claimed the cult filmmaker John Waters. I imagine he would find a kindred spirit in the visual and performance artist Marsian De Lellis, whose handmade spectacles memorialize obsessional lives. Drawing inspiration from the offbeat characters whose private manias become public fodder for tabloids, talk shows, and reality television, De Lellis’s creations are the hybrid offspring of fact and fiction, his productions equal parts art, performance, and object lesson on polymorphous perversity.

As you may recall from Psych 101, Freud believed that polymorphous perversity is our libidinal state of origin. (1) Children attempt to derive erotic pleasure in whatever form it is available, through every object possible, and in every conceivable direction. As we move into adulthood, our promiscuous relationship with the world of things is relinquished through social pressure and repression, the cultural reinforcement of morality, shame, and disgust. There are those, however, who get derailed on the journey to normative adult relationships. While they are often the target of passing gapes and psychological rubbernecking, De Lellis erects a roadside attraction for them at the crossroads between object performance and performance art (a terrain he has dubbed “puppetry adjacent”). By utilizing dolls, puppets, costumes, masks, craft supplies, and everything else at his disposal to embroider the details of displaced obsession and desire, he draws out their “problemagic” capacities for troubling subjecthood, gender, and identity.

(In)/Animate Objects is the second half of a diptych on the relational world of De Lellis’s fictional protagonist Andrea Lowe, an “objectum sexual” (a real psychological phenomenon in which a person develops romantic and sexual feelings for inanimate objects). Its companion piece, Object of Her Affection, is a solo puppetry performance that charts Andrea’s relationship history, from losing her virginity to a hunting rifle as an adolescent, to successive heartbreaks with a series of landmark statues, buildings, and bridges, until a final fatal encounter with a crumbling urban tenement. (2) Puppets and props shift scale throughout the performance, exteriorizing Andrea’s emotional vicissitudes, while De Lellis takes up multiple positions, at points serving simultaneously as narrator, character, and set piece. (In a feat of remarkable multidexterity, he manipulates both an Andrea puppet and her female nemesis Marcy while dressed as the Golden Gate Bridge.) Such polymorphic conversions are a playful invitation to childhood regression, a primal call to suspend the distinctions between subject and object, animate and inanimate, and self and other.

The stand-alone installation for the 2016 C.O.L.A. exhibition offers viewers a window into Andrea’s psychic and relational world through an encounter with the obsessions of her doll-hoarding grandmother. More than a thousand rag dolls in various states of disrepair—each individually handcrafted and distressed by the artist and an extended network of friends and family—testify to the insatiable need for love at the heart of the obsessional life. Like all De Lellis’s productions, (In)/Animate Objects employs artificial excess in the service of a camp sensibility that inspires ambivalence between identification and abjection. It also exemplifies Susan Sontag’s assertion that camp, for all its droll irony, “relishes, rather than judges,” performing “a kind of love, love for human nature. (3)

—Allison De Fren
1. See Sigmund Freud, Three Essays on the Theory of Sexuality, trans. James Strachey (London: Imago, 1949).
2. Presented at Automata and REDCAT as part of the 2014 New Original Works Festival.

3. Susan Sontag, “Notes on ‘Camp'” (1964), in Against Interpretation, and Other Essays (New York: Picador, 2001), 291.
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